Ministers Evaluated 'Positive' And 'Negative' Ahead Of Third Cabinet Reshuffle

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah were expected to hold talks later in the night on Friday, ahead of the Ministry reshuffle.

It will be the third such exercise since he took over as the Prime Minister in May 2014.

According to The Indian Express, the swearing-in ceremony will take place at around 10 am, at Rashtrapati Bhawan, a first under newly-elected President Ram Nath Kovind.

Republic TV has reported that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis may get a Cabinet berth and sources said that he has agreed to the proposal.

The Cabinet reshuffle was long overdue and has been necessitated because of several factors.

The current strength of the council of ministers, including the PM, is 73 and the maximum number of ministers can not go beyond 81.

When the newly-minted PM Modi had given additional charge of defence to Jaitley for the first time in May 2014 and he ran the ministry for over five months, the prime minister had tasked him to prepare a blueprint for rapid modernisation of the armed forces and identifying procurement of new weapon systems from overseas.

A number of cabinet ministers are now holding more than one key portfolios-Finance Minister Arun Jaitley holding additional charge of Defence, Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan having the additional charge of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Textile Minister Smriti Irani holding additional charge of Information and Broadcasting.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu is also expected to be let go of in the reshuffle because of the spate of recent train accidents. This is what he was doing as the chief minister of Gujarat.

While the reshuffle, slated to be held on Sunday, was the prerogative of the prime minister, it would make "zero difference", he said. It will also see changes in health ministry (JP Nadda), agriculture (Radha Mohan Singh) and civil aviation, now held by the TDP, as crucial AI disinvestment will have to be undertaken. He is also likely to be adjusted in one of the vacant Raj Bhavans as a Governor. Last month, JD (U) had officially announced to become a part of the ruling NDA after the BJP supported Nitish Kumar's government in Bihar.

Speculations on who all would be part of PM Modi's team are on but going by the previous record, the prime minister may again surprise everyone with his decision.

It is speculated that NPP national president Conrad Sangma, who is also a Lok Sabha MP from Tura and BJP bigwig from Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma who is also the state Finance Minister will likely be the new faces in the PM Modi cabinet.

The Cabinet reshuffle will be closely watched to gauge the message PM Modi wishes to send ahead of the 2019 General Elections. The total number of ministers in the council can not exceed 81.